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Food Industry Hall of Fame West

Food City Banner Caters To Hispanic Shoppers

Food City Bashas
Ralph Woodward, SVP of operations

The Shelby Report of the West’s EVP Bob Reeves recently toured Food City, a banner of Bashas’ Family of Stores. Mike Solis, director of operations for Food City, and Ralph Woodward, SVP of operations for Bashas’ Family of Stores, led the walk-through.

Bashas’ bought Food City, which caters to the Hispanic palate, in the mid-1990s.

Solis explained the outdoor area is used to grill chicken for the store. The grilled chicken is a big signature item for the Food City delis.

“The chicken is grilled over actual mesquite fire,” he said, adding there is a big following for Food City’s grilled products.

The grilled chicken is sold alongside rotisserie chickens.

Woodward said he believed Food City’s grilled chicken is “far better than anything else in the market.”

The deli has a menu showcasing the products offered. Among other choices there are tacos, burritos and tortas, as well as breakfast made to order.

According to Solis, the product selection is consistent, with some changes seasonally such as during Easter and Lent. Tamales are popular during the holiday season. Soups are offered daily. The deli also has a catering menu.

A key driver currently in the deli area is the selection of agua frescas, Solis said.

“It’s a phenomenal product,” he said. “They’re very traditional, authentic type products.”

Solis said the drinks’ popularity has expanded from Mexico.

All items in Food City’s meat department are freshly cut in the store, Solis said.

“The variety of cuts that we have really calls out to our clientele…thin-sliced steaks, signature items like the skirt steak, which is very big for carne asadas; the chuck steak is the base core item when it comes to our products and clientele,” he said.

Food City carries a variety of beef, steaks, roasts, marinated chickens and steaks and in-house chorizo, a signature item that is extremely popular, Solis said.

Dan Hosler, director of meat for the company, said meat is sourced from across the country. “We’re always looking for price; we’re price conscious,” he said. “We’re not in any contract with anybody, so we just get it where we can get it. Our biggest supplier is JBS.”

Hosler said Food City carries select cuts and Mexican meat, which is not graded but extremely popular.

The department also offers a value priced Taco Box and Fajita Box for $20 each.

Many Food City shoppers have large families, so the value packs are popular.

Solis noted the Hispanic cheese variety program. “We have our private label and, of course, El Mexicano, the market leader for the branded cheese. It’s a strong, strong item for us; we sell it on tray packs…it’s just a great, great product and a lot of demand for that.”

Solis said Food City customers love to shop produce first, which is the stores’ big draw. Located at the front, the stores “really try to throw freshness in front of our customers,” he said.

“Our customers cook at home for their families day in and day out,” he said. “It’s just the way the culture is, and fresh produce is very, very important to them.”

Many customers prefer to buy their produce in bulk but like to “pick and choose what they’re going to take, instead of grabbing a bag,” said Gabe Flores, director of produce for Bashas’ and Food City.

Food City also carries some local produce, when available.

The produce department features many core items used for cooking ingredients – tomatoes, avocados, cucumbers, pepinos, soft squashes. The calabacitas are popular, as are onions. It features a signature set of different hot and bell peppers, as well as a large spice wall.

During the holiday season, Food City will put up a stand and bag masa for customers near the tortilleria, Solis said. The masa is made in-store. Nixtamal is available. Corn tortillas chips – both thick and thin – are made fresh in-house every day.

Food City features a value aisle with base items such as rice and tomatoes that are core to what its customers want. The stores also carry private label brands, which include a mix of its own and Topco brands.

The store tour ended in the bakery, where a variety of made-from-scratch items are available, such as bilillos, conchas and cochitos, according to Aida Martinez, bakery merchandiser for Food City. 

She said the cochitos, a cookie, are a very big seller.

Woodward likes the fact the items in the Food City bakery are “more bread and less sweet” than what’s found in a traditional bakery.

Martinez said the bakery has fresh fruits, leches and a line of tres leches cakes in several different flavors.

“We’re also known for a lot of color in our cakes,” she said.

For more information, visit foodcity.com.

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